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Algeria election: Who is running for president?

Algerians will head to polls on Dec. 12 to elect new president

Ihsan Mejdi   | 10.12.2019
Algeria election: Who is running for president?


This week, Algerians will head to polls to elect a new president, eight months after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down against the backdrop of popular protests against his 20-year rule. 

Protesters, however, are not enthusiastic about the Dec. 12 presidential contest as they believe that the five candidates running in the polls have been involved with Bouteflika’s regime. So, who are these candidates?

Abdelmajid Tebboune

A former prime minister, Tebboune, 74, served only for 81 days before being removed in August 2017. Bouteflika, who was forced to resign last April following nationwide protests, sacked Tebboune for his attempt to take measures against corrupt businessmen loyal to the regime.

Born on Nov. 17 in the eastern Naama province, he studied at the National School of Administration and graduated with a degree in economics and finance in 1969.

Tebboune held several ministerial positions, including the portfolios of culture and communication in 1999 and housing and urban affairs between 2000 and 2001.

He was appointed in different administrative positions and served three times as mayor of Tiaret, Adrar, and Tizi Ouzou provinces between 1984 and 1991.

Regarded by many as one of the symbols of the Bouteflika regime, Tebboune said during his electoral campaign that his political program will meet the demands of protesters.

Ali Benflis

Head of Talaie El Houriyet party, Benflis served as prime minister from 2000 to 2003.

This is the third time for Benflis to stand in presidential elections. He ran in 2004 and 2014 and lost to Bouteflika in the two races.

Born on Sept. 8, 1944 in Batna, east of Algiers, Benflis studied law and was appointed judge at the Court of Blida in 1968 and prosecutor at the Court of Batna from 1969 to 1971.

He was elected to the Central Committee of the National Liberation Front and its political bureau in 1989. He was later reelected to the same position four times in 1991, 1996, 1998, and 2000.

Co-founder of the Algerian Human Rights League, Benflis served as justice minister from 1988 to 1991 and implemented a number of judiciary reforms.

In 1999, he successfully ran Bouteflika’s presidential campaign. He was later appointed Chief of Staff at the Presidential Cabinet as well as head of the ruling National Liberation Front.

During his electoral campaign, Benflis says he presents a "national urgency program" to tackle Algeria’s social, political, and economic problems.

Azzedine Mihoubi

A former culture minister, Mihoubi was born in January, 1959 in the town of Ain Khadra in northern Algeria.

He is the interim General Secretary of the Democratic National Rally (RND).

On Dec. 5, one week before the presidential polls, Bouteflika's National Liberation Front (FLN) announced its support for Mihoubi’s candidacy.

An author and journalist, Mihoubi graduated from the National School of Administration in 1984. He worked for Algeria's national radio and television and served as MP representing the RND.

In 2010, he was appointed chief executive of the National Library of Algeria.

Talking of his program, Mihoubi said during his campaign that he has "15 strategic commitments" to make, including economic, educational, and health reforms, if he is elected president.

Abdelaziz Belaid

Head of El-Moustakbal Front, this is the second time for Belaid to contest presidential polls after running in 2014.

Born on June 16, 1963 in Batna, Belaid holds a PhD in medicine and a degree in law.

At the age of 23, Belaid was elected to the Central Committee of the FLN. He served as MP from 1997 to 2002 and from 2002 to 2007.

Belaid headed the National Union of Algerian Students (UNEA) from 1986 to 2007 and was a leading member of the National Union of Algerian Youth (UNJA) affiliated with the FLN.

In 2012, he left the FLN and founded El-Moustakbal Front.

Known for his support for Bouteflika, Belaid chose "The People Decide" slogan for his electoral campaign, pledging "deep reforms that meet the aspirations of the Algerian people" if elected for office.

Abdelkader Bengrina

Head of El-Bina Movement, Bengrina was appointed Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts in 1997.

Bengrina holds degrees in electronics and political science.

He entered the political scene first as a member of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) in his hometown of Ouargla in southern Algeria.

Bengrina, 57, was a leading member and co-founder of the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Movement for the Islamic Society in the 1990s. The movement later changed its name to Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP) following the drafting of the 1996 Constitution.

He quit the MSP and founded Al-Taghyir Front in 2008, which he left later to found El-Bina Movement.

He was a member and vice president of the National Transition Council (1994-1997) before being appointed Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts.

In 2002, Bengrina served as MP.

Despite his moderate Islamist tendency, Bengrina failed to gain the support of the fragmented Islamist currents and parties during his electoral campaign.

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